Category Archives: Personal

And then life threw me a lesson plan

For more than a year, I have been making a transition from corporate communications to education. I have been given an opportunity to be a computer teacher at an elementary school in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It’s an amazing time to be joining a profession that’s getting lots of attention. And scrutiny. From the recent schoolteachers’ walkout in Chicago, to the just out Nations Report Card, among others, the story is not exactly cheerful.

Meanwhile, as knowledge acquisition is moving an 120 miles-per-hour, pedagogy is ambling along.  I can see this through the lens of our two children, as new engagement tools emerge, and curricula change. Analog classrooms are trying to adapt to digital natives. Britannica now has an app for the iPad and other tablets. Classrooms are being ‘flipped.’ We can’t continue to do the same old, same old.

If there’s a simple lesson plan for my career, it’s this: push students to the edges. Focusing on ‘core’ areas, but also widen the aperture. Knowledge of ‘computers’ without context of where they are used, is meaningless. Often it’s the topical things we introduce in class that make planned (not canned) lessons relevant. One study last year found that students who did “science-related activities that are not for schoolwork” performed higher.

TO KICK OFF, I re-positioned the computer class as a Technology and Computer Lab, in which students will engage in subjects from space exploration to search engines.

Being the school’s robotics coach helps. This is a program established by the FIRST Lego League. Students can step out of their comfort zone and take risks, even while engaging their math and design skills.

Each day, the lens zooms in and widens…



Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Education, Personal, Robotics, Technology


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What’s good for Gangplank is good for Phoenix, me!

I’ve been talking so a lot of entrepreneurs and people who are passionate about living in the Phoenix area recently.

The reason? I been unwittingly –unceremoniously– thrown into the job market that many of you know very well.

It’s got its downsides: too many looking for too few openings, people willing to try anything/ take on any job just to put food on the table.

I hear you. I’ve actually conducted a workshop for job seekers recently. In fact I am planning a few more.

But I am hugely optimistic, because there are entrepreneurs in this city that are truly inspiring. If you haven’t heard of Green Nurture and Gangplank, you have been missing something. (I did not pick the letter G at random, believe me.)

Gangplank’s beliefs should be enough to get anyone fired up:

  • We believe that Phoenix can be a fantastic center for innovation—once committed.
  • We believe that web professionals should focus on collaboration over competition, and that ideas should be shared freely.
  • We believe that small businesses, micro-businesses, and freelancers, bridged together in common cause, will be the core of this revolution in Phoenix.

So when people ask me if I am interested in looking outside the Valley, I say no. It’s bleak, it’s hot, and depending on what day you pick up the newspaper, it could be disappointing. I’m just not buying the doom and gloom.

I’m still at the Decision Theater, but am actively looking for a great new opportunity out here.

Give me a call at 602.750.3476.

I’ve got some ideas that could  redefine what it means to be the hottest state.


Blogging workshop wrap up

blog_centralThe blogging 101 workshop, at on Monday was quite an experience. As always,  I ended up having a great learning experience myself. More on that later.

The topic, Using Blogging and Social Networking to Support Your Job Search, comes with a bunch of disclaimers. At the risk of seeming repetitive, I have to say that a blog will not and should not replace a resume. It may enhance your resume, but better still it gives you a way to rethink how you work on your resume. Or your reputation out there.

A resume, after all is a way to capture your reputation system on a sheet of paper, which is an odd thing to have to do in this day and age. That sheet of paper needs to become a living document, and not something that lives in a folder.

I happen to think that a blog is easier to maintain than a resume. Certainly much easier than a web site. (A few people in the audience had personal web sites. I do, too, and it’s a royal pain to update.) Indeed, a blog requires more care and feeding at the initial stage, but once you set up some good blogging habits, use a few simple tools and tricks, it’s not a huge chore.

Once you compare how limited you are with some of the existing tactics you use to define who you are, and what your potential is, a blog becomes a no-brainer.

Comparison between different reputation 'tools'
Comparison between different reputation ‘tools’

Big thank you to Pat Elliott for getting me involved with the Scottsdale Job Network.


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In memory of my sister

marinez1In memory of my beloved sister, Marinez, who passed away yesterday. She used to love this quote by Etienne de Grelletas, which sums up what she was all about.

“I shall pass through this world but once.

Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.

Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”


Posted by on April 3, 2009 in Personal


7 things in 2007 that changed the way I think

This year was a game changer. I got to work alongside some extremely creative people, on projects that involved new media, old media, networking, and lots of social media learning. The highlights:

  1. Attended a one-day AMA Phoenix workshop on mobile marketing.
  2. Started using Wikis for project management, article interviews, what-if projects, a rich-media resume, etc.
  3. Rediscovered the value of online surveys as due diligence for strat planning, marketing, and a tool for tapping into emerging trends.
  4. Attended the IABC International conference in New Orleans.
  5. Visited Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. A multi-sensory offline marketing eye-opener!
  6. Added Facebook and MyRagan to my social networks, that connect the dots between professional colleagues, knowledge, and work.
  7. Read Wikinomics. I couldn’t give a glib one-line explanation here about this amazing book.
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Posted by on December 21, 2007 in IABC, Personal, Social Media


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Joe Fernando

June 15, 1920 — October 16, 2005


It’s over a month since my last post. For good reason. My dad pased away on October 16th.

He never published a book, was never featured on TV, but he had a knack of infecting everyone around him with ideas, be it in English, Sinhalese, Tamil or Latin! He could talk non stop on George Orwell, Thomas Merton, Aristotle, Churchill, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Senarath Paranavithana, or Shakespeare –sometimes in one sitting, if you didn’t watch out!

Which is another way of saying how hard it is to pigeonhole someone who juggled between being a solid teacher, philosopher, storyteller, uncle, husband, father-in-law, grandfather and dad.

He was a teacher at heart. (Just ask his attendant, whom he managed to teach some Latin!) At the height of his career, on humid Sunday afternoons, you would see him walk by the railway tracks, suitcase in hand, to the Wellawatte railway station. Destination: Galle. I always wondered what kept him going. Much later, when I would talk to him about his work, I came to realize the driving force behind this dedication was his students. Not just the ones at Thurstan College, Colombo, and St. Aloysius College, Galle, but anyone who turned up at our doorstep with an exercise book and an assignment. On a teacher’s salary, he always saw the poverty in others hungry for knowledge. If there was a lesson in it for me it was this: our problems pale into insignificance if we just look outside our window.

In a larger sense, we all sat in his class. Neighbours, nieces and nephews, my schoolmates, priests, vendors and the odd grownup that had happened to hear of the iskola-mahathaya (that’s ‘school master’ in Sinhalese) down Clifford Place. They would breeze in without any forewarning for help with essays and proficiency exams, notes for debates, and coaching for job applications, dissertations and interviews. He just loved to have them in his office room, crowded around a formica table with ginger beer stains. It was Aladdin’s cave, stuffed with books and papers, as one cousin described it. He always knew where to dig out and dust off that biography, anthology or encyclopaedia you were looking for.

To me, my dad was the equivalent of Google and; the human search engine when hunting down bits of history and articles, and on-demand library. If you cared for the sidebars, they would include a yarn or two, or some embarrassing details plucked from the family-tree.

Yes, life was a collection of colourful stories to him, as those who listened to his repertoire of ghost stories, war stories, travel tales and embellished family narratives know.


And so, I thought it was only fitting that I related a not-so-embellished story of a simple man who impacted so many of us. I miss him so much.

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Posted by on November 3, 2005 in Personal